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More support

There are many charities and support services that offer free, trusted and impartial advice on a variety of topics related to your sexual health.

Find a service that can help you with:

Common concerns about sex

Most people will have some difficulties with sex at some point in their life. For many people, stress, anxiety, relationship troubles, medication side effects or lifestyle choices can affect how they experience sex. A visit to a local sexual health clinic or GP can help to check if there are any physical or psychological causes. There are different treatments available that can make sex easier, more pleasurable or less painful.

National support services:

RelateA relationship support service that has online advice about sex and relationships, telephone and online counselling and local support services, as well as therapists you can pay to see.
Sexual Advice AssociationA charitable organisation aiming to improve the sexual health and wellbeing of men and women, and to raise awareness of the extent to which sexual conditions affect the general population.
Association for the Treatment of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity (ATSAC)A not-for-profit organisation that provides information and support on sex addiction and compulsivity.
Sexaholics AnonymousA support service that helps people with lust, sex or pornography addiction. Find a local meeting or call their 24 hour helpline: 0300 111 7777.

Medication that may reduce your chances of getting HIV

PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis)

PEP is medicine that you can take to prevent HIV infection after you have been exposed to the HIV virus, for example, by having unprotected sex.

National support services:

Terrence Higgins Trust

Information on PEP including an online risk calculator to help you work out if you might need PEP.

You can also call THT Direct 0808 802 1221.

PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis)

PrEP is medicine that you take before you have sex, if you are HIV negative, to reduce the chance of you getting HIV.

National support services / accessing PrEP:

The PrEP IMPACT trial

You can access this NHS England trial through your local sexual health clinic. There were originally 10,000 places available, but a further 3,000 were added in the latter half of 2018, so please check back with your local clinic for availability.

I want PrEP now!Offers advice and support on how to buy PrEP online safely. If you buy generic PrEP online it’s important you still consult your sexual health clinic, so you can be supported to take it correctly and have the necessary monitoring tests.
56 Dean StreetA London NHS sexual health clinic where you have the option to buy generic PrEP.
Terrence Higgins Trust

Their hardship fund helps people who need PrEP but can’t afford it. For information, call 0808 802 1221.

PrepsterA website run by HIV prevention activists and includes information about how to obtain PrEP.

Hepatitis and HPV vaccinations

Hepatitis A vaccination

Hepatitis A is a virus that affects the liver. It is normally spread in areas with poor sanitation or during anal sexual contact. Generally, Hepatitis A does not normally cause any long term health problems, but can make you quite unwell when you become infected. Some people may experience ongoing liver problems.

There is a vaccine available if you are travelling to countries with poor sanitation, which you can pay for through your GP or travel clinic.

Hepatitis B vaccination

Hepatitis B is a virus that infects the liver, and may increase the risk of developing liver cirrhosis or cancer. Hepatitis B is passed on through an infected person’s blood or bodily fluids.

The Hepatitis B vaccine is a course of three or four injections over 6 to 12 months that greatly reduces the risk of acquiring the virus.

HPV vaccination

The HPV vaccine (called Gardasil) helps protect against four types of infection caused by the HPV virus, including those that can develop into cervical cancer, and genital warts. The vaccine is highly effective when given in two or three injections over a 6 to 24 month period and has very few side effects.

Sex, drugs and alcohol

Do you use alcohol or drugs before sex?

Drugs and alcohol can lead you (or your partner) to do things that you might not have done otherwise, or that you might not want to do. You might find yourself in a situation that is beyond your control, or where you are unable to make clear decisions about sex.

National support services:

Talk to Frank Friendly and confidential drug advice.
ChildlineConfidential service for people up to the age of 19. You can contact a Childline counsellor about anything.

Chemsex

Chemsex is a term commonly used by gay and bisexual men to describe the use of certain drugs before or during sex. It is a very specific form of drug use and is defined by the use of a combination of drugs ('chems'). The drugs most commonly associated with chemsex are Crystal Meth (‘Tina’), GHB/GBL (‘G’), and Mephedrone.

Chemsex can have a big impact on different areas of your life, such as your work, relationships or social life, and you may find yourself becoming dependent on certain drugs. It’s not uncommon to take sexual risks during chemsex, and to have more partners than usual within a short space of time. If you are involved in chemsex, it is important that you know how to keep you and your partners as safe as possible.

Support services:

Friday/MondayFriday/Monday is a dedicated online resource for gay and bi men set up by the Terrence Higgins Trust. It provides free information and advice to help men stay safer using chems, and who want to break cycles around sex, chems and/or alcohol use. The website also has detailed information to help you find services which can help, across the UK.
Terrence Higgins TrustCall for advice on 0808 802 1221.
Antidote@London FriendLondon Friend are an LGBT charity based in London, who run a specialist support service around chemsex. They provide a telephone advice line, weekly drop-ins, counselling, and structured support groups.

Abuse, violence or assault

Domestic violence

Domestic violence is the abuse of one partner within an intimate or family relationship. It is the repeated, random and habitual use of intimidation to control a partner. The abuse can be physical, emotional, psychological, financial or sexual.

National support services:

Free 24 Hour National Domestic Violence HelplineA national helpline for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf. 0808 2000 247.
Mankind Initiative

Provides supports to men across the UK suffering from domestic violence or domestic abuse by their current or former wife or partner, including same-sex partners. 01823 334244.

Victim SupportProvide free confidential support to both men and women.

Sexual assault

Sexual assault is when someone touches another person in a sexual way, without that person’s consent. If you have experienced rape or sexual assault, there are specialist sexual assault referral centres (SARC) that can provide you with support.

Support services:

Find your local SARCUse the NHS choices search tool to find a service near you.
The Havens (London)The Havens is a network of specialist sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) located across London and is open 24/7 for victims of sexual assault. If you require urgent support you can call 020 3299 6900 (24 hours). If you need non-urgent information, call 020 3299 1599.

Gangs

A gang is usually considered to be a group of people who spend time in public places, and who:

  • see themselves (and are seen by others) as a noticeable group, and
  • engage in a range of criminal activity and violence
  • they may also identify with or lay a claim over territory, or be in conflict with other, similar, gangs.

National support services:

GangslineGangsline is a non-profit organisation established in 2007 to provide help and support to young men and women involved in gang culture. 0800 032 9538 - Freephone helpline.
Ask BrookText and webchat service giving sexual health information, support and signposting for people under 25 in the UK.
ChildlineConfidential service for people up to the age of 19. You can contact a Childline counsellor about anything.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or Female Genital Cutting

FGM, sometimes referred to as female circumcision, is when a girl's genitals (private parts) are altered or removed. It can cause long-lasting damage as well as ongoing emotional distress.

National support services:

ForwardWomen-led campaign and support charity dedicated to advancing and safeguarding the health and rights of African girls and women. If you, or someone you know, is at risk of FGM or has been affected by FGM you can contact Forward for information on services and one-to-one support. Open Monday to Friday from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. 0208 960 4000, extension 1, or 07834 168 141 or email support@forwarduk.org.uk
About FGMInformation resource about FGM which provides details of specialist FGM drop-in clinics around the UK where girls and women can access support and advice.

Trafficking

‘Trafficking’ is the movement of a person from one place to another for the purposes of exploitation. Individuals may have been forced, coerced or deceived into travelling, or may have travelled willingly but been deceived about the nature or conditions of work they would experience on their arrival.

National support services:

The Poppy ProjectThe Poppy Project provides support, advocacy and accommodation to trafficked women. 020 7735 2062.

Honour-based violence

The Crown Prosecution Service describes ‘honour’-based violence as an incident or crime “which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family and/or the community.”

National support services:

Free 24 Hour National Domestic Violence HelplineA national helpline for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf. 0808 2000 247.
The Halo Project

A national service that support victims of honour-based violence, forced marriage and FGM. In an emergency call: 08081 788 424 (free phone). When it’s not an emergency and you need to speak to someone for some advice then call: 01642 683045.

Forced Marriage

Forced marriage is when one or more of the people involved in a marriage are being married against their will. It is not the same as an arranged marriage, where the couple both agree to take part in the marriage.

National support services:

The Forced Marriage UnitA public helpline to provide advice and support to victims of forced marriage as well as to professionals dealing with cases. 020 7008 0151 or email: fmu@fco.gov.uk
The Halo Project

A national service that support victims of honour-based violence, forced marriage and FGM. In an emergency call: 08081 788 424 (free phone). When it’s not an emergency and you need to speak to someone for some advice then call: 01642 683045.

Feeling down, anxious or depressed

Do you feel down or depressed?

Many people suffer from feeling down or depressed. This can make it harder to make safe decisions about sex.

National support services:

MindThe UK’s largest mental health charity. They provide information and advice to people with mental health problems.
National Self Harm NetworkForum providing crisis support, information and resources, advice, discussions and distractions. It is closely monitored and available 24/7.
Papyrus Exists to give young people hope and to prevent young suicide.
Young MindsCharity committed to improving the emotional well-being and mental health of children and young people.
ChildlineConfidential service for people up to the age of 19. You can contact a Childline counsellor about anything.

Do you feel pressured into sex?

Nobody should be forced to have sex if they don’t want to. If you don’t want to have sex, even with a regular partner, you have the right to say no.

National support services:

Victim SupportProvide free confidential support to both men and women.
Ask BrookText and webchat service giving sexual health information, support and signposting for people under 25 in the UK.

Health anxiety

Many people feel anxious about catching an STI. However, if you continue to feel anxious after receiving negative results, or feel the need to test frequently when there is minimal risk of an STI, you may find it helpful to talk to a sexual health professional rather than taking multiple tests.

Testing frequently is unlikely to alleviate your concerns, and may worsen your anxiety/ mental health. Talking about your concerns with a sexual health professional will increase the likelihood of you getting the best support.

Find your local sexual health service.

STI information

Many people with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have no symptoms.

STIs can pass from one person to another during sex, especially if you don’t use a condom.

It is a good idea to get tested, particularly if you have recently changed partners.

Most infections can be cured. If you are diagnosed with an STI you should avoid having sex with anyone until you and your partner(s) have completed treatment. If you do have sex, the infection could be passed on.

Fettle makes it quick and easy to be tested for the six most common STIs without having to visit a clinic or GP. All of our services are supported by qualified and experienced clinicians.

With our self-sampling kits, you can get tested for Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, with results sent by text within 72 hours.

Read more about other STIs, including Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), Thrush, Herpes, Warts, Trichomoniasis, Cystitis and other sexual health issues, like erectile disfunction, on SH:24.

Contraception information

Contraception helps you control if and when you become pregnant.

There are many types of contraception, so you can choose the right method for your lifestyle. Don't be put off if the first type you use isn't quite right – you can try another.

When choosing a method of contraception you may want to consider whether you want to use a method that contains hormones, whether your lifestyle allows for you to take a pill each day or switch a patch each week, whether you need constant protection or even whether you are ok with injections.

It’s important that you are comfortable using your chosen method, and that you know how effective it is. If you need help, our specialist clinicians can offer advice and support by text and phone, to make sure you find contraception that works for you.

Only condoms protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as well as pregnancy.

Fettle makes it quick and easy to order contraception, including emergency contraception, without having to visit a clinic or GP. All of our services are supported by qualified and experienced clinicians.